Monday, December 18
Where is the God of Israel?
1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.
2 Why should the Gentiles say, "So where is their God?"
3 But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men's hands.
5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see;
6 They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell;
7 They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat.
8 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
Psalm 115 is in the group of psalms known as “The Great Hallel.” Psalms 113-118 comprise Israel's "Hallelujah Chorus," to be sung repeatedly throughout the year and in their entirety at the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles and on other special occasions. It is very exciting to think that our Lord Jesus sang this psalm with His disciples in the upper room just before His crucifixion the next day.
We believe that this psalm was written after the captivity in Babylon. It has no title so we don’t know who the specific writer was but whoever wrote it was inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so because it is in our Holy Bible! The returned remnant soon found things more discouraging than they had dreamed. The first flush of enthusiasm died away. Response to the restoration had been meager. Their great expectations came to almost nothing. The surrounding pagan nations were hostile. It is possible that it is these “Gentiles” that are sneering and scoffing at the weak and ineffective Jewish remnant and asking the question, “So where is your God now?”
It is also possible that just the fact that the remnant was miraculously back in the land and that the Lord had given His people a great victory, they wanted to acknowledge it before their pagan neighbors and give God the glory. If their neighbors had visited the returned exiles and seen their rebuilt temple, they would have asked, "Where is your god?" There were no idols in the temple or in the city. The pagan Gentiles had idols for all their gods that they could visibly see. Remember when Paul visited Athens in Acts 17, he saw the city full of idols and even one that had the inscription, “To the Unknown God”.
This question gave the Jews the opportunity to contrast the false gods of their neighbors with the true and living God of Israel. Some commentators also point out that this psalm was written as a litany, with the leader opening in verse 1. The people then responded in verses 2-8, the choir in verses 9-11, and the people again in verses 12-13. The priests or the choir spoke in verses 14-15, and the people closed the litany in verses 16-18. The psalm may have been used at the dedication of the second temple (Ezra 6:16). It not only tells where the God of Israel is but what kind of a God He is.
In verse 1, the psalmist wants to make sure that no matter what the people have done and would accomplish as they rebuilt the temple and the city, that the glory would be given to God and not to them. Then the first answer to “where is the God of Israel” in given in verses 2-3. God is in heaven on His glorious throne, reigning as the sovereign God of the universe! His throne is founded on mercy and truth (love and faithfulness), which reminds us of His covenant with Israel. Because He loved them, He chose them (Deut. 7:7-11) and gave them His covenant, which He faithfully kept. And because He is God, “He can do whatever He pleases!”
Maybe instead of questioning God, we should simply give Him the glory and trust Him anyway for His mercy and truth, His love and faithfulness! And then we as God's people can shout, "Alleluia! For the Lord God omnipotent reigns!" (Rev. 19:6).